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On 16 February 2023, the German Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) ruled that the practice of regularly analysing data carriers, including mobile phones, by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) when registering asylum applicants is illegal (BVerwG 1 C 19.21). The judgement arrives after the Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte’s (GFF) efforts to reveal this practice’s details and take legal action against its use in the asylum procedure. In this post, we briefly overview this practice and analyse this judgement and its implications. We argue that although this judgement represents an important victory for asylum seekers’ and refugees’ data protection and privacy, some controversial aspects of this practice still require clarification.

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